13 farm schemes, loan waiver, SMART project get state nod
Ahead of the upcoming model code of conduct for the Assembly polls, the state cabinet on Monday announced sops worth more than ₹4,000 crore for farmers by widening the scope of the loan waiver, launching direct benefit transfer (DBT) for 13 welfare schemes and introducing effective market platform for farm produce.
These agrarian measures were among the 37 decisions that the state cabinet cleared in its meeting on Monday.
The cabinet gave its nod to waive off ₹66.56 crore worth of loans taken by 46,735 farmers from 1,393 private money lenders. The loans were given to the farmers by the lenders out of their allotted periphery and, thus, were declared as illegal lending. The state, in an exceptional decision, has decided to pay off the loan amount to the lenders, to free up the farmers’ loan accounts and make them eligible for fresh credit.
The state also brought 13 farmers-related schemes on the DBT platform to plug leakages and avoid the assistance from going to wrong beneficiaries. By avoiding the human interface, the state government expects the benefits to go directly to the farmers, without any political interference. The scheme would also help entitled farmers to apply for multiple schemes without any hassle.
“The 13 schemes, worth more than ₹2,100 crore, have been brought under the DBT today. With benefits directly going to farmers’ accounts, ineligible farmers will get weeded out and lobbying for government grants for farm equipment and schemes will also be curbed,” said Anil Bonde, agriculture minister.
The minister said that farmers would have to apply for the scheme online with the help of common services centres at village level. “Since the information is linked with the Aadhaar number, the verification of the farmers becomes easier. We are also planning to integrate the information of the beneficiaries to reduce the time required for the verification,” said SVR Srinivas, principal secretary, department of information and technology.
The state cabinet also gave its nod to the ₹2100-crore State of Maharashtra’s Agri-business and Rural Transformation (Smart) project assisted by World Bank to enable farmers to get fair price for their farm produce without the intervention of middlemen. The project, which covers 1,000 of the state’s villages, aims at enhancing institutional capacity for agribusiness reforms, supporting enterprise growth, market access and building risk-mitigation mechanism.
Bonde said that the government has already singed memorandums of understanding with the corporate houses dealing in farm produce. “We are implementing Smart in 300 projects across the states by involving self-help groups run by women, cooperative organisations, farmer producer companies by funding their value-chain projects. We expect the farmers would fetch at least ₹1,000 more over the minimum support price announced to the produce,” he said.